Taking Action

 

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Teddy Roosevelt

There is great power in simply doing something in order to get you moving in the right direction.

On day 2, I got a flat tire. It was not fun. But it was a great example of the importance of taking action.

I first realized something was wrong when one of my warning lights came on and I felt a strange dragging coming from the back of my bike. I stopped off the side of the road and inspected the motorcycle, only to find that my back tire was totally flat. Not exactly what I would have hoped for day 2. My first reaction was to slightly panic. I had no idea what to do if I got a flat tire. I knew that I needed to figure out what caused the leak and then patch the hole with the patch kit I had (which I had obviously purchased for peace of mind but no real intention of actually using), but apart from that I was pretty lost.

I went about finding the cause — a nail right through the tread — and got the hole patched.

Next, I had to get air back in the tire, but of course the pump I had wasn’t working.

Around this time, a man across the street yelled over and asked if I needed any help. I told him that I needed to get air in the tire and was thinking of riding the two miles back to the gas station at the edge of Garden City, Kansas. I learned from this guy that the gas station didn’t have any air, but that he had a compressor at his house. I agreed to follow him back to his house, which was only about a mile away.

Of course, he took off and I wasn’t able to keep up, so now I was rolling down the side of the highway at about 10 miles an hour while waving trucks around me and trying not to get run over. About a quarter mile down the road, there happened to be a tire shop, and I went in and got air put back in the tire. My patch was actually keeping air in, but now I needed a new tire.

Motorcycles have either tubed or tubeless tires. Tubeless tires are exactly as they sound, they don’t have a tube inside. I was under the impression I had tubeless tires, which meant that a hole in the tire necessitated a completely new tire. After calling every place in town, as well as the only other shop within 50 miles, I learned that the 17 inch tires I have are relatively rare and no one has them in stock. Great. The only advice I got was to put some fix-a-flat in the tube, get a small air compressor for periodic inflation, and pray I could make it 200 miles to Wichita, Kansas to find a new tire.

Figuring this was my only option, I stopped by one of the motorcycle shops in town to buy some fix-a-flat and get some advice on what I should do. After talking to the owner of the shop and showing him the tire, he agreed to take it apart and see if I could potentially run a tube inside my tubeless tire. He takes apart the tire, learns that I actually have tubed tires, not tubeless tires, and proceeds to replace the tube, clean out my patch, and send me on my way within half an hour.

When I first realized I had a flat tire, I actually started doing something that was completely wrong. I didn’t have tubeless tires, so putting a patch on the tire itself wouldn’t have had any lasting effect. But by taking action, I was offered help, which led to further actions, and ultimately a positive outcome.

Taking action, even the wrong action, can lead you where you need to go.

 

 

7 Keys to Navigating Your First Job

You learn a lot in school.

You learn a hell of a lot more on the job.

Working life is drastically different from academic life in that the achievements are vague, you have more autonomy, and problems almost never have a right answer. Making the transition from college to your first job can be a challenge, but these seven keys helped me achieve some success during my first year working.

1. Learn everyone’s name

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie.

It’s astonishing how few people actually know everyone’s name in the workplace. There are a multitude of tricks for remembering names, but really all it comes down to is being intentional about getting to know people and remembering their names. Knowing someone’s name will build incredible relational equity, help you make friends faster, and ultimately make you happier at work.

2. Figure out where you can add value

In your life, you can either create value or you can extract value. Most people extract value. Figure out how to create value, and you will be infinitely more successful. At the very beginning, it doesn’t really matter where you’re doing to create value because you’re learning what it means to create value for others, something that academic life doesn’t teach you how to do at all. Once you learn how to create some type of value, your next job is to figure out how to create value within the most valuable parts of the business you’re working in. Do this, and people will want to work with you.

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3 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dad

I have been blessed in my life to have had a number of male figures to look up to while growing up. I have been even more blessed by the fact that the most influential of those men was, and still is, my father.

In honor of Father’s Day, here are the three biggest lessons my dad taught me over the years.

1. You can have fun doing anything.

When I was younger, my family took many vacations, most of them road trips, in which hilariously disastrous events took place. One time, we drove a Winnebago to the Grand Canyon and the side storage panels opened up going over a mountain pass, littering camp chairs and propane tanks across the road to the serious dismay of the other drivers. The toilet got backed up during that same trip, it snowed, and despite it all, it was one of the best vacations I remember from my childhood.

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What does it mean to take an Adventure?

This question first popped into my head about a year ago.

At that time, I was just starting my first job out of college and was enamored with my new, “real” life. But part of me had this lingering thought that I should one day take some grand Adventure. So I wrote down a goal of taking a motorcycle trip around North America, but really didn’t have much of an idea when that would happen.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and I was having a conversation with a mentor of mine about my future and the things that I wanted to accomplish.

I mentioned the motorcycle trip.

He said I should follow my passions and do the things I cared about sooner rather than later.

I thought that seemed sorta crazy.

Two sleepless nights later I had committed myself to the trip.

Since then, I have:

1. Taken a leave of absence from my job

2. Bought a new motorcycle

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3. Killed the battery  on said motorcycle on the first day of owning it

4. Bought a new battery

5. Learned how to install that battery

6. Realized I know absolutely nothing about motorcycle maintenance (who would think reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance wouldn’t actually teach you how to maintain a motorcycle?)

7. Started learning how to maintain a motorcycle

8. Ended the lease on my apartment

9. Purchased a ton of gear

And now I’m two weeks away from leaving on a trip of somewhat indeterminate length (probably about 3 months) with the only goal of having an Adventure.

My semi-formed plan is to head East, then North, eventually West, and finally make my way South when it starts to get cold. Otherwise, I’m pretty much just going to wing it.

I’ll be writing about the places I go, the books I read, and the people I meet here on this blog over the next few months.

Have any suggestions about where I should travel?